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Maine has developed distinct knowledge and skills bases in genetics/genomics and the development of commercially successful products in the diagnostics markets based on knowledge of antibodies and related biochemistry/biology fields. The large and growing volume of research indicates potential clusters that may emerge in the future, while the diagnostics/antibodies industry represents a current emerging cluster. However, biotechnology clusters are very small scale in Maine.
The keys to growing and strengthening these clusters include: continuing to support expansion of research and development in the biomedical sciences; expanding the workforce, particularly those with graduate training; supporting creation of new biotech firms; and linking to networks and alliances with major biotech firms for financing and product development.
From the 2008 Battelle Report:
Technology, Talent and Capital: State BioScience Initiatives
Key Indicators of the Growth of the Biosciences in the United States:
- The total employment impact, including direct, indirect, and induced jobs, of the biosciences sector is 7.5 million jobs
- Academic bioscience R&D expenditures totaled $29 billion in FY 2006
- U.S. higher education institutions awarded bioscience-related degrees to more than 143,000 students in the 2006 academic year
- Venture capital investments in bioscience companies reached $11.6 billion in 2007
- More than 82,000 bioscience-related patents were awarded between 2002 and 2007 in the United States
Key Findings: State Biosciences Initiatives are engaged in the following:
- Addressing talent needs
- Investing in the biosciences to address global issues
- Recognizing that business climate issues vary by company size
- Establishing legislative caucuses and committees focused on the biosciences
- Advancing bold initiatives in the biosciences, including investments in stem cell research
- Reassessing biosciences investments in light of budget realities
- Continuing to address risk capital gaps
- Creating new commercialization vehicles
- Funding translational research in the context of existing programs
From Battelle's 2008 Maine Biosciences Report:
Maine has a specialized employment concentration in the research, testing, and medical laboratories subsector (location quotient of 1.28) and showed faster-than-average growth over the 6 years ending in 2006 in the drugs and pharmaceuticals and medical devices and equipment subsectors. Academic bioscience research expenditures were $46 million in 2006, with the largest share in agricultural sciences ($24 million), followed by biological sciences. Maine’s 695 bioscience patents in the past 6 years placed it slightly above its population rank. The largest single category was drugs and pharmaceuticals, followed by biochemistry.
Recent State Initiatives
In 2007, the Maine Legislature authorized and the voters approved $50 million in bond funding to create the Maine Technology Asset Fund. The Fund is a 2-year, competitive award program for investment in research and development and commercialization that is open to all research entities and companies in Maine. Awards can be used for capital investments in research assets, including facilities construction and renovation, machinery and equipment (including computers, software, and licenses required for their use, as well as related technician training for operation of equipment and machinery purchased), and land purchase. The program is administered by the Maine Technology Institute.
Six Maine biomedical research institutions have joined together to create a new Graduate School of Biomedical Science. The School is a collaboration of the University of Maine, Jackson Laboratory, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, the University of Southern Maine, and the Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health. The School offers a doctoral degree in biomedical sciences with concentrations in molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and toxicology. An interdisciplinary doctoral degree in functional genomics is also offered. The Maine Technology Institute continues to provide early-stage capital and commercialization assistance to technology-based projects in key industry clusters, including the biosciences. The University of Maine hosts a Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative that is using a $6.9 million award from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) (matched by $3.45 million from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund) to create a pilot biorefinery that would extract hemicellulose for ethanol upstream from existing wood-pulp paper mills.
Battelle is a private, non-profit organization recornized worldwide for technology development, management and commercialization.
Major Industry Developments and Recent Successes
- Bar Harbor BioTechnology, a Bar Harbor developer of DNA and RNA analysis equipment, raised a multimillion round of funding in 2007. The firm is the first spin-off of the Jackson Laboratory.
- IDEXX Laboratories continues to expand with revenues increasing 25 percent in 2007. IDEXX is the global market leader in diagnostics and information technology solutions for pet health care providers worldwide.
- MariCal, an aquatic life sciences company that develops and licenses innovative solutions to problems facing the aquaculture industry, also continues to grow. MariCal has one product in commercial use and 10 products in various stages of development.
From the Biotechnology Industry Organization:
Guide to Biotechnology